Wednesday August 4th, 2021, 0900-1700
Rt 27 to Sluice Brook logging road, SOBO AT mm 207
6276 gain, 5992 loss
I couldn’t have asked for better conditions in the dorm room. White noise from the fans and a/c drowned out other noises. The bunk was huge with a brand new modern mattress, so comfy. The giant, airy dorm loft even smelled fresh. And yet, I still slept horribly. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the trail and worrying that I needed to do a better job planning ahead and quit taking so many town stops.
Instead of sleeping, I worked on stuff on my phone…at least I got a lot done. I finally fell asleep around midnight but woke up during my usual too-early time. I just needed to get back to the trail. Breakfast was great…eggs, fruit, and biscuits and gravy, with plenty to go around. Who knows how many calories I consumed on this town stop…but it was just what I needed!
I talked with lots of hikers at the hostel, even some fellow SOBOs. Pete and Too Late to name a few. One guy, Zooster, told me he’d been on trail since June 4th. Others had started more recently. One guy was having to get off trail shortly to go close on the sale of his house. Of all the 30 some hikers at the hostel, only 2 besides me were women. This trail has so many more men for some reason. I’m a bit of an anomaly… gen-x, female, southbound, a lone wolf.
Blue Jen (the Jen that has blue hair) drove me and 2 others back to the trail. It’s been nice having shuttles…I haven’t needed to hitch yet. I started off alone, per usual, wondering if there was anyone just ahead. Doesn’t seem like it. The trail was pretty quiet, 30 or so NOBOs, always in waves of 5 or 6, and a few day hikers throughout.
It was all uphill for nearly 5 miles, followed by a series of exceedingly steep ascents and descents. Rock and roots were ever present so that nearly every footfall had to be calculated and adjusted. The uneven terrain really puts a strain on the feet. Everyone said that southern Maine was tough…and I believed them. So I’m not surprised, just humbled. It took me a hour to go 1.5 miles often. Three mountaintops in a row (the Crockers and Mt Spaulding) resulted in little to no views, just lots of sweat.
I passed a half mile side trail to the top of Sugarloaf, second highest mtn in Maine. I might have done it had it been a clear day, such as the day before. Instead, it was very hazy, with limited views of only the nearby peaks. At this point, the trail followed a more mellow ridgeline…it felt kind of like a break but still technical in places.
I finished the day kind of early but I had to stop. I hadn’t taken one break all day (wasn’t hungry after all the town food) and I felt pretty beat. Continuing another 2 miles to a shelter would have involved another punishing 1000′ climb. Anything over 6000′ gain in one day is usual enough for me. Besides, with so many people on trail, even finding a tentsite near a shelter can be challenging when you show up late in the day. Here, an old tramway provided a nice flat spots next to a series of waterfalls. Plus I had my pick of sites.
It didn’t take long for a guy to come along and pitch his tent right next to mine (recall it’s a road so there’s a lot of space). But he was very quiet and no bother. Then a couple showed up past 8 pm to pitch on the other side of me, and proceeded to have couple’s chat hour well past hiker midnight. I had to finally ask them to please either talk in whispers or go somewhere else to talk. I was definitely pretty grumpy after not getting much sleep the night before (my fault). I guess the NOBOs are used to such close quarters but not this lone wolf. With the aid of earplugs, I did sleep well the rest of the night at least.